Health & Grooming | The Reconnoisseur

A deliciously wintry fragrance

The smell of church incense and woodsmoke in the frosty Alps

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A deliciously wintry fragrance

December 19 2009
Avril Groom

Perfumes seem to me like essential accessories, chosen to reflect my mood, my outfit, or the time of year or of the day. Having a signature scent seems too one-dimensional, though sticking with one house has its merits – fragrances are often designed by the same “nose” and may start from the same base, so you can blend them.

Long-term favourites of mine are perfumes from Annick Goutal, now run by the founder’s daughter Camille, who works with the same perfumer, Isabelle Doyen, that her mother did and is maintaining the brand’s character and creativity. She now has two London shops in addition to concessions in Harrods and Liberty. Annick Goutal fragrances are also stocked at Fenwick, Fortnum & Mason, Harvey Nichols and Selfridges.

Their classic fragrances are marvellously evocative and unusual, accurately reflecting featured ingredients but always with an added twist. For summer I love the freshness of Chèvrefeuille (honeysuckle), which has all the light beauty of the flower plus a soft greenness that reduces its sweetness and brings it alive.

But now I’m revelling in the depth and weirdness of Encens Flamboyant, which is deliciously wintry without falling into the hackneyed trap of cinnamon and cloves. Based on smoky frankincense with black pepper, spices such as cardamom, and balsam and pistachio woods, it lies somewhere between church incense and woodsmoke carried on frosty Alpine air.

Goutal created it last year with three Orientalist companions – an even richer amber scent (Ambre Fétiche), plus lighter myrrh (Myrrhe Ardente) and musk (Musc Nomade). She recommends blending them for different effects, herself using Encens to lighten the Myrrhe. More versatile still, they are unisex, with elegant, smoked glass 50ml bottles, £76, for women and square 100ml bottles, £97, for men.

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Perfume